U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he announces executive actions on gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks as he announces executive actions on gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, April 8, 2021.

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke Thursday about a set of new measures meant to address gun violence in the United States.

Ahead of their remarks, the White House released details of some of the initiatives, calling gun violence a “public health epidemic.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks is flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland as he arrives to announce executive actions on gun violence prevention.

Plan details

One action is a proposed rule from the Justice Department to stop the proliferation of so-called “ghost guns” that lack serial numbers and are difficult for law enforcement to trace when they are used in crimes.

The Justice Department is also planning to issue a model of what are known as “red flag” laws that give family members and law enforcement the ability to petition a court to temporarily restrict someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or someone else from accessing guns.  The model is intended to give individual states a starting point for enacting their own laws.

Another proposed rule from the Justice Department would address stabilizing braces for pistols.  The White House says such devices “can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.”

The new efforts also include an annual report on firearms trafficking, and a set of community violence interventions.

Biden also nominated David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, to lead the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman was a 25-year agent at the agency where he took part in the investigations of bombings at New York’s World Trade Center and a federal building in Oklahoma City in the 1990s.

FILE - "Ghost guns" are on display at the San Francisco Police Department headquarters in this November 2019 photo. President Biden is expected to announce tighter regulations requiring buyers of ghost guns to undergo background checks, sources say.

Recent US mass shootings

The push for measures to counter gun violence comes after the latest mass shootings in the United States, including last month’s killing of 10 people at a grocery store in Colorado and the killing of eight people at spas in the Atlanta area.

Such attacks spur debate on the divisive issues of gun control in the United States.

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Republican opposition

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Biden’s moves would “trample over” constitutional rights to bear arms.

“He is soft on crime, but infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens. I won’t stand for it. And neither will House Republicans. Follow the Constitution!” McCarthy tweeted.

FILE - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., responds to a reporter's question during his weekly news conference at the Capitol in Washington.

Saving lives

John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, praised the administration’s actions, particularly on ghost guns, saying that will “undoubtedly save countless lives.”

“We are glad to hear the administration’s commitment that today’s actions are just the beginning, and look forward to continuing to work closely with them to end gun violence in this country,” Feinblatt said in a statement.